The Drupal Boost module: improve your site’s performance with caching

Mar
16

One of the methods to improve your Drupal website’s performance is caching. One of the tools to get the most out of caching is the Drupal Boost module. And one of the ways to get acquainted with the Boost module is to read this article! So let’s go… or, perhaps we should say let’s fly, because we are here to make your website much faster.

The Drupal Boost module: what it does for caching

The Boost module helps improve page loading time tremendously, as well as saving server resources. It does this by providing static page caching to anonymous users. This performance improvement module is especially helpful for sites with mostly non-logged in visitors.

So what makes the Boost module stand out against Drupal’s default caching opportunities? Its major achievement is a file-based approach to caching. This means that it uses the file system, not the database, for cache creation, avoiding unnecessary calls to the database.

When an anonymous user comes to a website with the Boost module enabled, the page gets cached as an HTML file in the cache folder. This file will be used to quickly deliver the same page to next anonymous guests who arrive to the website, with no need to bootstrap Drupal.

Some more special “goodies” of the Boost module

  • The Boost module caches and compresses your website's HTML, XML, Ajax, CSS and Javascript
  • It is very flexible in the cache expiration options that you can set (from days to months)
  • It has a built-in tool to quickly regenerate the expired content

Installing and configuring the Boost module

This module is an advanced one, which does not make it easy configure. However, here are some of the major guidelines for its installation and configuration on a Drupal 7 website.

  • Download the Boost module, unpack it and put its folder in your sites/all/modules folder, then enable the module. Alternatively, use this Drush command: drush -y en boost.
  • Enable the “Clean URLs.” This is essential for the Boost module’s work. Find them here: Administer — Configuration — Search and metadata — Clean URLs.
  • Disable Drupal’s default cache. You need to do it because the Boost cannot work together with the core caching function. To do this, go to Administer — Configuration — Development— Performance and uncheck the caching option for anonymous users.
  • Update your .htaccess file. First, backup your current .htaccess file (just in case). After this, visit Administer — Configuration — System — Boost — .Htaccess — .Htaccess Generation. Copy the text from the “Generated Rules” and then paste it in your .htaccess file under the “Rewrite base” line.
  • Adjust your settings. In Administer — Configuration — System — Boost — Boost Settings, configure what you need. The most important setting is the HTML caching time. If you have plenty of static content that rarely changes, it’s a good idea to keep it in your cache for weeks.

To check how it all works, “play” anonymous — for example, visit the page from another browser or sign out, and then check if you get this page in your cache folder.

You could use some other helpful modules in combination with the Boost module for an even better performance improvement effect. These include, for example the Cache Expiration, the Global Redirect, and the Pathauto.

If you need any help with installing and configuring the Boost module,​ contact Drudesk right now. We can also analyze your site to find out what else is needed to speed it up, and, of course, promptly implement it.

Certainly, Drupal has been created to handle even heavy-traffic sites, and its opportunities for performance improvement are unlimited with the Boost module, and other tools as well. You just need to use them properly, and we will be glad to help you!

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